Civic Consulting Alliance:  Smart work.  Great city.  

FY 2014
YTD totals




Civic Leader's Perspective: Terry Mazany, The Chicago Community Trust

Terry Mazany
President and CEO,

Recovery has been slow and uneven for metropolitan Chicago following the Great Recession of 2008-2009.  Spending cuts at the federal and state level pose a continuing drag on economic growth and infrastructure investment.  An increasing proportion of tax revenues are directed to meeting pension obligations, meaning fewer dollars are available for governments to innovate and improve efficiencies.  As a result, we are seeing greater and greater reliance on public-private partnerships to improve government performance and efficiency.


Fortunately for Chicago, Civic Consulting Alliance predates the current crisis and has demonstrated great capacity to leverage the expertise resident in Chicago's business community for civic benefit.  From its role anchoring the Recovery Partnership during the recession, to facilitating the transition plans for new leadership at the County and City, Civic Consulting has engaged tens of millions of dollars of pro bono consultant services to improve government performance. 



Given the nature of the challenges facing our government at all levels, there is little reason to believe that we will ever return to a time when government resources will be substantially available to direct toward innovative approaches to solving social problems.  We instead find ourselves in a time of change - shifting from a world defined by government to one defined by governance.  That is, a shift from government being the solution, to collective efforts of civic leaders solving problems. 


We see this shift manifest in examples like the $50 million campaign by the Public Safety Action Committee to reduce youth violence, or in the $40 million Campaign for Stronger Neighborhoods led by LISC Chicago.   We see it in the Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs produced by World Business Chicago, and forged from a partnership with the Trust, the MacArthur Foundation, Metropolis Strategies, and the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program.


In times like these, The Chicago Community Trust plays a vital role in facilitating collaborations and forging partnerships.  Our impact, in turn, is amplified by partners like Civic Consulting that have the frontline relationships and confidence of government leaders to deliver quality services that make a real and lasting difference.


Pro bono partners:


Last month, the City and County announced $37 million in new savings and revenue in year two of City-County Collaboration, bringing the total to over $70 million. Over the past two years, the City and County have accomplished this by working together to coordinate service delivery, eliminate duplication, write joint contracts, and pursue joint grant applications.


"I am pleased to announce that after two years, the City-County Collaboration has already surpassed its initial goal by locking in $70.9 million in savings and revenue for both governments," wrote Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the report.


Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle added, "I am proud of the work the City-County Collaboration has accomplished to date and the measures we have taken to maximize the value of every tax dollar."



The $37 million in new savings and revenue includes:

  • Joint enforcement: $11.8 million in new revenue
  • Grants funds awarded due to collaboration: $10.1 million in revenue
  • Joint contracts: $2.9 million in savings
  • Sharing equipment, services, or facilities: $2.5 million in savings

The Collaboration also streamlined procurement processes, expanded summer and after-school opportunities for youth, cracked down on illegal tobacco sales, and simplified the certification and renewal process for minority- and women-owned businesses.


Civic Consulting and 14 pro bono partners supported this effort by launching and then managing the Collaboration for 18 months, concluding in a successful transition of program management to senior City and County leaders.


For more information, please contact Kelsey Burr




Pro bono partners:

Historically, patients have had difficulty navigating the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS). Even scheduling an appointment could be a frustrating experience: 13% of calls went unanswered, those who did not speak English found little support, and separate calls needed to be made for different appointments.



Over the last several months Civic Consulting Alliance has been working with CCHHS management and Central Scheduling staff, who field around 300,000 calls annually. By measuring performance and working together to identify ways to improve the patient experience, Central Scheduling has:

  • Reduced the abandoned calls rate to 6.6% (a nearly 50% reduction)
  • Introduced real-time translation for more than 200 languages
  • Expanded the types of appointments that they can schedule for patients

Said one member of the Central Scheduling team, "The improvements made over the last few months have allowed us to serve patients and CCHHS's mission better than ever before."


For more information, please contact Bryan Preston.


CPS Evaluates more than 500 Principals for the First Time

Pro bono partners:

In a historic first, Chicago Public Schools has completed a comprehensive evaluation of every principal. This groundbreaking achievement is a key piece of the Principal Quality Initiative (PQI) goal of placing a high-performing principal in every CPS school.  Civic Consulting and partners Bain & Company, Ernst & Young LLP, and McKinsey & Company worked with CPS to plan and launch key components of PQI over the past year.


"The Principal Quality Initiative is a great example of the City of Chicago proactively building partnerships with existing nonprofits in the community," said Bain Civic Fellow Andrew Noh, who helped manage the project.  "It was incredibly rewarding to work with Civic Consulting and CPS and its administrators to manage this program and collectively achieve a great outcome."



As the first comprehensive attempt to address the entire spectrum of what it takes to put quality principals in every school, PQI has developed an ambitious scope that includes recruitment, evaluation, professional development, placement, and incentives.


For more information, please contact Rose Fealy.


CPS press release: Chicago Unveils Comprehensive School Principal Quality Strategy

Chicago Tribune: Rewarding Success at CPS

DNAInfo: CPS Awards Principals $1.1 Million in Bonuses


In other Civic Consulting news...  


Join us to Explore Local and National Implications of the Civic Consulting Model


On Thursday, November 21st from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, The University of Chicago and the Harris School of Public Policy, in partnership with the Civic Consulting Alliance, will host a symposium on cross-sector partnerships and urban innovation. The Public Academic Civic Triangle Roundtable [link] will showcase the impact of public-private partnerships to deliver significant, measurable, and innovative results. Civic Consulting's pro bono and government partners will be highlighted and a White House guest speaker will discuss the national implications of our work.  To attend, please register here.


For more information, please contact Alexander Shermansong

Civic Consulting Alliance Model Featured by Stanford Social Innovation Review
Pointing to a "30 year track record of success" and the real impact achieved by our projects, the Stanford Social Innovation Review has featured Civic Consulting Alliance as a leading example of pro bono innovation that has led to larger-scale success.  Also highlighted is Civic Consulting USA, a new, New York-based organization led by former Civic Consulting Alliance Principal Alexander Shermansong, which aims to bring the model developed in Chicago to New York and beyond.

For more information, please contact Alexander Shermansong or Brian Fabes.


Chicago Public Library Pilots Data-Driven Approach Across System


This summer, Civic Consulting Alliance helped the Chicago Public Library pilot an outcomes measurement protocol.  Working with all 80 branches on the Summer Learning Challenge, our team designed a method for tracking outcomes and created both individual branch-level and system-level dashboards. The ultimate goal is to enable CPL to refine programming, revise its portfolio of offerings, and communicate the impact of programs to patrons, staff, and donors. 


For more information, please contact Rose Fealy.

New Employee Benefit Proposal Saves Cook County $14.4 million


Cook County's proposed 2014 budget includes $14.4 million of savings in employee benefits for FY2014.  This cost reduction is a result of analytical work Civic Consulting led in summer 2012 to benchmark costs against the Mercer benefit cost database.  The new proposal tightens eligibility and rolls out a new pharmacy benefit management system, which will help employees manage their health while saving money for Cook County.


For more information, please contact Rose Fealy.


Dr. Toni Irving Named to Lead Chicago's Anti-Violence Group


In August, Dr. Toni Irving, former deputy chief of staff to Governor Pat Quinn, was appointed executive director of the Chicago Public Safety Action Committee (PSAC), a public-private organization formed to decrease violence in Chicago's toughest neighborhoods. With more than 20 years of experience in social policy and anti-violence efforts, Dr. Irving will be responsible for creating community-level impact on the violence issue by identifying best practices around which to fund, identifying appropriate performance measures, and tracking outcomes.


The planning process to create PSAC was managed by Civic Consulting Alliance and partners Allstate and Loop Capital with the City of Chicago, with the charge of raising $50 million to fund programs targeted towards preventing violent crime among at-risk youth. Early efforts have shown promising results, including a program which showed a 51% reduction in violent crime arrests this past summer.


For more information, please contact Alexander Shermansong or Asheley Van Ness.


Reinvention Progress Leads to Favorable Bond Ratings


Citing a recent history of positive financial operations, strong available reserves, and a solid financial profile, Standard & Poor's and Fitch have rated $250 of million bonds issued by City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) in October as AA stable and AA- stable, respectively. 


The positive rating is one of many recent successes for CCC, which has achieved a balanced budget in the last three years with no increase in property taxes and increased graduation rates by 71% since 2011. Improved fiscal sustainability and educational achievement are both hallmarks of the Reinvention strategy that resulted from a partnership between Civic Consulting Alliance, City Colleges, and many pro bono partners. 

For more information, please contact Brian Fabes.